9:35 AM EST, December 30, 2012
A bank-ordered auction is set for an old South Bend retail storefront that has sat vacant since the commercial real estate market collapse nearly five years ago.
The Jan. 16 auction could mean a new user for the longtime Target store, which was last used by defunct sports apparel company Steve & Barry's.
That is the hope, at least.
Key Auctioneers is optimistic the 1 p.m. auction will yield a buyer that intends to bring the building back to life at 605 N. Hickory Road, near McKinley Avenue.
Centier Bank, which owns the 153,000-square-foot building, decided to auction the commercial building after attempts to sell it proved unsuccessful.
"The date creates action, interest and motivation from a buyer knowing that something's going to happen. There's an aggressive seller that wants it sold," says Jeff Doner, vice president/principal broker for Key Auctioneers, based in Indianapolis.
But uncertainties remain.
"The auction may very well (produce) a speculator that buys the building and puts it back on the market," Doner says.
His company began marketing the building and its auction date before Christmas, with a focus on possible investors in Indianapolis, Chicago and Detroit.
"Most properties sell to people who are pretty darn close (in proximity)," Doner says. "But we try not to pigeonhole the property at all" into a proposed future use.
The old Target building was constructed in 1970 and has always been used for commercial purposes. Local shoppers might remember the building as an Ayr-Way, Thrif-T-Mart and a one-time Martin's Super Market.
Target occupied the building for much of 1990s and remained there until 2002, when its Mishawaka supercenter opened on University Drive.
The building sat vacant until December 2006, when Steve & Barry's was expanding its chain of sports apparel stores. Steve & Barry's closed the store in 2008 and later folded as a company.
The building, once known as McKinley Square shopping center, was listed at $7.9 million in 2010.
"But it would've been a very serious uphill battle to have another retailer in there. The commercial real estate market has been down really bad and it was as bad as it could get when Steve & Barry's left," Doner says.
Now, the commercial real estate market is seeing more activity than it has in years, he says. And there is no list price on the building that could deter a potential investor or end-user from looking into the property.
"The bank has the right to accept or reject the final bid," he says. "They don't know what that will be. It depends on how many bidders we have on auction day."
For as old as the building is, Doner says, the single-story structure has a good roof, a full sprinkler system, three truck level docks and four overhead doors.
It sits on more than 10.5 acres and has about 470 parking spaces.
If you are passing by the storefront and notice activity before the auction date, prospective bidders may be touring the building.
An official tour has been set from noon to 3 p.m. on Jan. 7. "The property will be open for previews and inspections that day or by appointment," Doner says.
Anyone who is interested in setting up a tour should call Key Auctioneers at 855-353-1100. More information also can be found on the company's website at www.keyauctioneers.com.
What would you like to see inside this former Target store? Share your ideas for the commercial user or retail tenant you would like to see in the building on our Facebook page.
Waka Dog plans move
A downtown Mishawaka restaurant temporarily closed Saturday, but its owners hope to announce a new South Bend site soon.
Waka Dog owners Cheryl and Richard Copeland hope to close a deal this week on a location near the University of Notre Dame.
"We will miss the great times we shared with the community," Cheryl Copeland says about leaving their location at 114 Lincoln Way E. after five years there.
Check back for more information on the new site and tentative reopening date. The Copelands plan to expand the offerings to include breakfast, lunch and dinner at the new restaurant.
Woodland Inn sale
Cindy Beals, general manager at the Woodland Inn, admits the South Bend restaurant has been on the market for the past year, but most customers have been unaware.
"We didn't want folks to panic or worry," says Beals.
But she made the announcement Thursday on Facebook, in hopes that drawing some local attention to the sale of the Woodland Inn, located at 63992 Indiana 331, might generate some interest.
The $155,000 asking price includes the land, building, equipment and inventory. Beals has received several messages, texts and tweets from prospective buyers in the last several days.
"We have no plans on closing and the staff would love to stay for the new owners. Mom and I will definitely stay on as long as the new owners need us," Beals says.
Have you heard?
Subcontractors recently submitted bids for work on a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant at 5000 S. Franklin St., Michigan City. The estimated project cost is $300,000 and construction is expected to get under way in late January. ... Our next live chat is scheduled for Jan. 8, when we will talk about possible retail and restaurant projects and development in 2013. Happy New Year!
Heidi Prescott's column runs on Fridays and Sundays. When she's not shopping, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket.
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